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"Madeleine gave us an objective view of the people and places we see on the news."

"She is no nonsense, easy to work with, and very flexible. I recommend her highly."

"Madeleine kept our children, 10, 13, 15 yrs interested and engaged (as only a former teacher can), and her depth of knowledge was welcome by the adults in the group."

"We were a diverse group - different ages, religions, athletic abilities - and Madeleine managed to accommodate us all."

"Madeleine gracefully navigated complex issues of faith and culture and we came away with a much better perspective of Jerusalem through 3,000 years of history"

"Madeleine has a talent for listening to what we're interested in and crafting an itinerary that when experienced, flows perfectly while she is open to being flexible and the serendipity of discovery"

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Monday, January 14, 2013

History in Black and White

From David Ben Gurion declaring the new State of Israel to portraits of presidents and prime ministers, Rudi Weissenstein's camera captured the history of a nation. Together with his wife, Miriam, they opened the Pri-Or Photohouse in 1940. Today Israel's oldest photography store is run by grandson Ben Peter.

Last week on an unusually cold and wet Tel Aviv day I discovered this magical place in the heart of Tel Aviv. Over a hot coffee and surrounded by portraits of the Who's Who of Israeli history, Ben proceeded to tell us about his family, his work and the more than one million pictures taken by his grandfather documenting the history of the state.

With Ben Peter in the Photohouse - Shimon Peres looks on

Since Ben Peter began working with his grandmother, Miriam Weissenstein at the Photohouse, one of his goals has been to preserve his grandfather’s archive of one million negatives through digitization. On November 27, 2012, the building which had housed Pri-Or Photohouse on Allenby 30 for over 70 years was torn down, and on that same day a contract was signed with the National Library of Israel to preserve the archive.

The story of the Photohouse was documented in the film "Life in Stills" by Tamar Tal winner of the best film award at the DocAviv Festival in Tel Aviv in 2011. It tells the story of the special relationship between Ben and his 96 year old grandmother Miriam, the family and the photos.

Images of Miriam Weissenstein on the wall

Since Miriam's death last year at the age of 98, Ben divides his time between the store, touring the world promoting the film and keeping alive the legacy of his grandfather's pictures.

It's worth taking the time to stop by and peruse the wonderful photographic collection and perhaps purchase a souvenir of days past - if you can choose just one that is!

Pri-Or Photohouse - Zalmania is located on 5 Tchernikovsky Street, Tel Aviv. 03-5177916. Open Sunday - Thursday 10:00 - 18:00, Friday until 13:00.

Thanks to Aliza Orent for her photographs


  1. I see that you are still delighting guests to Jerusalem. I just sent your contact information to Austrian friends who will visit the port at Ashdod in February. No trip to Israel is complete without at least a day with Madeleine!